Lesson Plan for 2014-02-05: Escaping the Triangle

Just do the opposite.
Just do the opposite.

escapesAfter covering the fundamentals of a triangle, I expect everyone to be triangle monsters.  To give everyone a chance at defending against your new-found magical ability to crush them with triangles at will, tonight’s class will cover two important escapes from triangles. 

As with any escape from a submission attempt, it’s important to recognize what stage of the attack you are defending against.  Early stage escapes are often easier and have a higher success rate.  Late stage escapes recognize that your opponent is tightening the noose, your options are very limited, and mistakes are severely punished.

Our early stage escape will depend on combating the number one goal I have for setting a triangle, which is creating the angle.  You will learn how to break the angle, and often convert your escape into side control.

The late stage escape is when all else fails, and you are in imminent danger of being submitted.  I have used this escape against high level triangle experts.  It depends first on body weight, then on good posture as you slowly extract yourself from danger.


It doesn’t always work, but when it does, it works very well.  Stay safe, my friends.

 Post class update

Although I have a number of previous classes waiting to be uploaded, this is the first official Simple BJJ class video.

Early stage escape

Early stage triangles are of course the easiest triangle attempt to escape from.  My first goal when attempting a triangle is to create as much angle as possible, which solves many problems when finishing a triangle.  It makes perfect sense to make breaking that angle a priority.  One mistake that many people make is to assume they can bully their way out of a triangle.  At a stage even earlier than what I’m covering here, it certainly is possible, and I occasionally show the technique, but I don’t believe it’s a good habit, and I have even submitted people off of their bully pass attempt with an americana.

When breaking the angle it’s important to maintain balance and use the twisting action of your body to release the lock.  There should be significant pressure from your chest against your opponents leg, combined with a prying away of their leg with your hands.

Once the legs are open, the next order of business is to make sure you don’t leave your arm behind.  Your elbow, as always, should be kept as close to the chest as possible.  Once I have cleared the leg with my elbow, I like to use my hand as a hook and force the legs to collapse together away from me.  In theory I’m susceptible to an elbow push at this point, but in practice I don’t seem to have to worry about it.

Once I have cleared the leg and I have forced my opponent away from me, I can drop into a clean side control.

Late stage escape

Although for classroom purposes I’m not in a full lock, assume this is an escape you use when you are dangerously close to tapping, and you have failed at earlier escapes.  The big advantage to this escape is that you are accepting the angle, but you are disabling the triangle by forcing your body to twist inside the legs.  This requires efficient use of your body weight, similar to a 100 kilos side control.

One of the things I point out for this technique is that just like a mid stage triangle escape where you try to relieve the pressure on your arm-in side by driving your elbow backwards and sometimes wrap your arm around the leg to keep it in your armpit, this escape utilizes the same kind of opening motion.  You go from intense submission pressure to a breath of fresh air in an instant.

After achieving this twist, your hands are naturally at your attackers knee.  Your elbow blocks the hip, your hands draw back towards your belly, shoulder drives into the lower leg, and your body is driven forward and balanced by your leg positioning.  This puts a lot of pressure not only on the knee, but even the hip of your attacker.  During the drilling time when I demonstrated this on one student, he tapped to a foot lock because he couldn’t uncross his feet due to the pressure.

Once the legs are pried open, shift your entire weight onto the bottom leg.  You have a window of time to advance your position, and it’s a good idea to get used to controlling this rather than trying to jump to side control.  Your opponent is already effectively shrimped into you, so he is primed to regain his closed/open guard or catch a half guard if you are sloppy in your transition.  Practice this stage of the escape slowly and with control, and attempt to prevent your sparring partner from ever regaining guard.  One element that is not well detailed in this video is you can use the elbow you were blocking the hip with as a block against the leg while you get your lower knee into position from side control.

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